The annals of Leitrim GAA history are full of memorable encounters between Ballinamore Sean O’Heslins and Aughawillan but unfortunately last Saturday’s Connacht Gold Championship Quarter Final between the sides in Cloone was unable to live up to the standards of previous years.
By Philip Rooney
Ballianmore Sean O’Heslins 0-13
Over the course of the game Ballinamore looked sharper in all areas of the pitch but they will feel that such was their superiority they should won by a bigger margin. The fact that Ballinamore kicked a total of 12 wides over the course of the game is something they will need to improve on when it comes to the semi-final but in truth it never looked like it was going to hamper their chances of victory on Saturday last.
Ballinamore enjoyed the better of the opening half in terms of territory and possession but they were having real difficulty converting their dominance into scores. Although they led by double scores (0-6 to 0-3) at the interval they really should have been much further ahead as they kicked a total eight wides during the opening half.
Wayne McKeon was the standout player in the opening half, winning more than his fair share of possession in the middle of the pitch, launching numerous attacks and just as important he was tracking back and making his presence felt in defence when required.
It was McKeon who opened the scoring after exchanging Johnny McWeeney and although Aughawillan responded with a Morgan Quinn free to level matters it was Ballinamore who got to the pace of the game much quicker.
Although named as full-froward in the programme Adrian Smith was operating at midfield, swapping with Shane Moran who gave an impressive showing at full-forward.
Smith’s physical presence helped win breaking ball and create space for his midfield partner Wayne McKeon and it was McKeon who was at the centre of all that was good about Ballinamore’s performance throughout the game.
After a Shane McWeeney free regained the lead for Ballinamore, Shane Moran extended that lead with a well taken point but while Ballinamore were enjoying plenty of possession, Aughawillan’s defensive pressure meant clear scoring chances were often hard to come by.
There was no faulting the workrate of the Aughawillan players, the biggest problem they were facing was when they did manage to clear the ball it was very difficult for their isolated forwards to maintain possession.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.